Hard cases make bad euthanasia laws

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The pro-euthanasia lobby often promotes media reports of people facing difficult prognoses who wish to end their lives rather than face inevitable deterioration. Such persons often become, for a short while, celebrities for a macabre cause. The media attention can even become addictive and provide, a distraction from their suffering or a raison d’etre.

But are these stories really a substantive reason for changing the law? I would argue, no.

In a debate in Launceston, Tasmania, a few years back a delightful woman on the other side of the debate told the story of her husband who had motor neurone disease and took his own life rather than face the trajectory of deterioration. She described the understood trajectory of MND in some detail. I imagine that she was describing a worst-case scenario.

One could easily understand the anguish of what her late husband was facing: he was… click here to read whole article and make comments



A recession is no time for assisted suicide, says disabled British peer

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Moves to legalise assisted suicide in Britain are a threat to the disabled during a time of economic hardship, says Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, a disabled peer. She told the London Telegraph that it was “a dangerous time” to consider to consider changes to legislation when people on welfare were being described as scroungers who are a burden on society.

Relaxing the law on assisted suicide would amount to an open invitation for relatives or carers to pressure people with disabilities to do away with their lives, she said.

The British House of Lords is currently debating the guidelines on prosecuting people who help loved ones to commit suicide. Baroness Campbell, who has suffered from a serious degenerative illness since childhood, is strongly opposed to altering the guidelines to mitigate penalties if the deceased had suffered from a disability.  

“Terminally ill and disabled people are in a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Why euthanasia slippery slopes can’t be prevented

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I have been receiving emails from people, including some with disabilities, who are angry about my opposition to legalizing euthanasia. The people with disabilities are not dying; they just do not want to continue living in the state in which they find themselves. It’s clear they believe they would be able to have access to euthanasia were it to be legalized.

Pro-euthanasia advocates claim, however, that only members of the “end-of-life population” – who they might be is not defined – will have access and that legalized euthanasia will be rarely used. They believe “sensible regulation” (the Globe and Mail’s editors’ term) will ensure such rarity and that no logical slippery slope (the groups allowed access to euthanasia continually expand) or practical slippery slope (euthanasia is abused or used outside the regulations governing it) will result.

To decide who is correct, we need to tease out several… click here to read whole article and make comments



Euthanasia of newborns under the microscope

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Euthanasia is defined as the act of intentionally ending the life of a terminally ill and suffering person in a quick and painless manner for reasons of compassion and mercy.

Euthanasia was practiced by the ancients. The term means “good death,” and the practice was to allow the patient to die in peace and with dignity. For the physician, it would mean caring for the patient and alleviating pain and suffering. However, the physician of ancient times could also cause the death of the patient. One physician would heal; another would provide the poison draught to cause the death of the patient.

The Oath of Hippocrates (ca. 500 BC) was the first attempt from a group of concerned physicians to establish a set of ethical principles that defined the physician as healer, rejecting the role of executioner. The principle of “primum non nocere,” first do no harm, from where the modern concepts of… click here to read whole article and make comments



Fact-checking claims of “well regulated euthanasia”

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Recently, the Globe and Mail, Canada’s national newspaper, published an editorial, “Quebec gets it right on the right to die”, which articulated the strongest case that can be made for supporting legalizing euthanasia and Quebec’s Bill 52 which seeks to do just that.

At the time of publication of the editorial, the Bill was expected to pass within days. As events have unfolded that has not occurred due to an unexpected move by the opposition Liberal party members of the Quebec Legislative Assembly, which delayed the Bill being put to a vote. In the interim, a budget bill was introduced and seems almost certain to be voted down, which will lead to a provincial election. Bill 52 will fall with the calling of an election, but if the Parti Quebecois is re-elected it is certain to again be brought forward, so this might be a temporary… click here to read whole article and make comments



Does silence before Belgium’s new euthanasia law mean consent?

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The Belgian Parliament amended its euthanasia law on February 14, making it available to children. One commentator incorrectly, but poignantly, called it a ‘Valentine’s Day Massacre’. Most, however, questioned whether children were capable of making such serious decisions.

Against the proposal was a group of 200 Belgian paediatricians and a group from within the Assembly of the Council of Europe. The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) issued a declaration from their international conference in Mumbai in the days before the vote. The ICPCN was clear: euthanasia is not part of palliative care and is not an alternative to palliative care.

While our thoughts go out to our Belgian colleagues and friends who fought valiantly against this latest bill, other Belgians, like Bart Sturtewagen, the Chief Editor of De Standaard newspaper – one of Belgium’s largest daily newspapers - seemed more than a little… click here to read whole article and make comments



Belgium extends euthanasia to children

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After little more than a day of debate, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives passed a child euthanasia law on Thursday. The bill now awaits Royal assent from King Philippe.

The bill allows a child who can understand the seriousness of a request for euthanasia and who has his or her parents’ consent to be killed. There is no age limit. The bill is supposedly designed for children experiencing unrelievable pain and symptoms as a result of a terminal disease, yet from the experiences in both Belgium and The Netherlands over the past decade, the reach of the legislation is likely to expand.

Precisely where it might expand to is hard to imagine - this would seem to be legislation at the very bottom of the bad-apple barrel. But considering that few, if any, could have imagine the Belgians leaping so definitively over the moral cliff as they… click here to read whole article and make comments



Everything you need to know about euthanasia in Quebec

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Created by Vivre dans la Dignite, of Quebec.    

click here to read whole article and make comments



It can get ugly

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I don't feel at all qualified to speak on behalf of people living with disability even though I have shared in the lives of many people over the years and I have a son with Down Syndrome. Certainly, my association with other families who have children with Downs and spending time with dear friends with disabilities has enriched my perspective, but I don't want to stand in a public space on this issue principally because people living with disabilities can and do speak well for themselves. It is they whom we should be listening to.

Certainly, my wife Anne and I have experienced some discrimination in our time, but really only in a small way. Enough, however, to know that just below the surface of even cordial exchanges can lie poor attitudes and even bad intentions. The testimony of many friends bear this out in some disturbing… click here to read whole article and make comments



Death of Welsh academic shows why suicide is the ultimate taboo

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The Welsh newspaper Wales Online recently reported the tragic story of a 44-year-old Welsh academic who chose suicide in the face of her deteriorating health due to the lethal degenerative disease multiple sclerosis. Frances Medley, the former acting head of the Wales Arts Council, a high achiever by any measure, declared in her blog:

The prospect of further rapid deterioration was both terrifying and not one I wanted to entertain. I decided to end my life in a manner of my choosing. I am very clear that, whilst the law might say otherwise, I AM NOT COMMITTING SUICIDE.”

Medley also commented: “Hold your tongue at times when you risk blurting out judgmental potentially hurtful comments; we seldom know the full back story.” Certainly a good principle to live by and one, that for the sake of her memory and the devastation at her loss, I intend to… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at

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